Osho on the pathless path

osho-on-zenTHE ANCIENTS SAID:

"(SELF-)CULTIVATION TAKES AN UNIMAGINABLE TIME (WHILE) ENLIGHTENMENT IN AN INSTANT IS ATTAINED."

IF THE TRAINING IS EFFICIENT, ENLIGHTENMENT WILL BE ATTAINED IN ONE FINGERSNAP.

IN DAYS GONE BY CH'AN MASTER HUI CHUEH OF LANG YEH MOUNTAIN, HAD A DISCIPLE WHO CALLED ON HIM FOR INSTRUCTION. THE MASTER TAUGHT HER TO EXAMINE INTO THE SENTENCE: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

SHE FOLLOWED HIS INSTRUCTION STRICTLY WITHOUT BACKSLIDING.

ONE DAY HER HOUSE CAUGHT FIRE, BUT SHE SAID: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

ANOTHER DAY, HER SON FELL INTO THE WATER AND WHEN A BYSTANDER CALLED HER, SHE SAID: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

SHE OBSERVED EXACTLY HER MASTER'S INSTRUCTION BY LAYING DOWN ALL CASUAL THOUGHTS.

ONE DAY, AS HER HUSBAND LIT THE FIRE TO MAKE FRITTERS OF TWISTED DOUGH, SHE THREW INTO THE PAN FULL OF BOILING (VEGETABLE) OIL A BATTER WHICH MADE A NOISE.

UPON HEARING THE NOISE, SHE WAS INSTANTLY ENLIGHTENED. THEN SHE THREW THE PAN OF OIL ON THE GROUND, CLAPPED HER HANDS AND LAUGHED.

THINKING SHE WAS INSANE, HER HUSBAND SCOLDED HER AND SAID: "WHY DO YOU DO THIS? ARE YOU MAD?"

SHE REPLIED: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

THEN SHE WENT TO THE MASTER HUI CHUEH AND ASKED HIM TO VERIFY HER ACHIEVEMENT.

THE MASTER CONFIRMED THAT SHE HAD OBTAINED THE HOLY FRUIT.

THERE ARE TWO PATHS TO THE ULTIMATE TRUTH. The first is of self-cultivation and the second is of enlightenment. The first is basically wrong. It only appears to be a path; it is not. One goes on and on in circles, but one never arrives. The second does not appear to be a path because there is no space for a path when something happens instantly, when something happens immediately. When something happens without taking any time, how can there be a path?

This paradox has to be understood as deeply as possible: the first appears to be the path but is not; the second appears not to be a path but is. The first appears to be a path because there is infinite time; it is a time phenomenon But anything happening in time cannot lead you beyond time; anything happening in time only strengthens time.

Time means mind. Time IS a projection of mind. It does not exist; it is only an illusion. Only the present exists -- and the present is not part of time. The present is part of eternity. Past is time, future is time; both are non-existential. The past is only memory and the future is only imagination; memory and imagination, both are non-existential. We create the past because we cling to memory; clinging to the memory is the source of the past. And we create the future because we have so many desires yet to be fulfilled, we have so many imaginations yet to be realized. And desires need a future like a screen onto which they can be projected.

Past and future are mind phenomena; and past and future make your whole idea of time. Ordinarily you think that time is divided into three divisions: past, present and future. That is totally wrong. That is not how the awakened ones have seen time. They say time consists only of two divisions: past and future. The present is not part of time at all; the present belongs to the beyond.

The first path -- the path of self-cultivation -- is a time path; it has nothing to do with eternity. And truth is eternity.

The second path -- the path of enlightenment, Zen Masters have always called the pathless path because it does not appear to be a path at all. It cannot appear as a path, but just for the purposes of communication we will call it "the second path," arbitrarily. The second path is not part of time, it is part of eternity. Hence it happens instantaneously; it happens in the present. You cannot desire it, you cannot be ambitious for it.

On the first path, the false path, all is allowed. You can imagine, you can desire, you can be ambitious. You can change all your worldly desires into other-worldly desires. That's what the so-called religious people go on doing. They don't desire money any more -- they are fed up with it, tired of it, frustrated with it, bored with it -- but they start desiring God. Desire persists; it changes its object. Money is no more the object of desire but God; pleasure is no more the object of desire but bliss. But what bliss can you imagine? Whatsoever you imagine in the name of bliss is nothing but your idea of pleasure -- maybe a little bit refined, cultivated, sophisticated, but it can't be more than that.

The people who stop desiring worldly things start desiring heaven and heavenly pleasures. But what are they? -- magnified forms of the same old desires, in fact more dangerous than the worldly desires, because with the worldly desires one thing is absolutely certain: you are bound to get frustrated sooner or later. You will get out of them; you Cannot remain in them forever. The very nature of them is such that they promise you, but they never fulfill their promises -- the goods are never delivered. How long can you remain deceived by them? Even the most stupid person has glimpses, once in a while, that he is chasing illusions which cannot be fulfilled by the very nature of existence. The intelligent one comes to the realization sooner.

But with the other-worldly desires there is far greater danger because they are other-worldly, and to see them and to experience them you will have to wait till death. They will happen only after death so you cannot be free of them in life, while you are alive. And a man who has lived unconsciously his whole life, his death is going to be the culmination of unconsciousness; he will die in unconsciousness. In death also he will not be able to disillusion himself. And the person who dies in unconsciousness is born again in unconsciousness. It is a vicious circle; it goes on and on. And the person who is born in unconsciousness will repeat the same stupidities that he has been repeating for millions of lives.

Unless you become alert and aware IN life, unless you change the quality of your living, you will not die consciously. And only a conscious death can bring you to a conscious birth; and then a far more conscious life opens its doors.

Changing worldly desires into other-worldly desires is the last strategy of the mind to keep you captive, to keep you a prisoner, to keep you in bondage.

So the first path is not really a path but a deception -- but a very alluring deception. In the first place, it is SELF-cultivation. It is not against the ego; it is rooted in the refinement of the ego. Refine your ego of all grossness, then you become a self. The ego is like a raw diamond: you go on cutting it and polishing it and then it becomes a Kohinoor, very precious. That is your idea of "self," but it is nothing but ego with a beautiful name, with a spiritual flavor thrown in. It is the same old illusory ego.

The very idea that "I am" is wrong. The whole is, God is -- I am not. Either I can exist or God can exist; we cannot both exist together -- because if I exist, then I am a separate entity. Then I have my own existence independent of God. But God simply means the total, the whole. HOW can I be independent of it? How can I be separate from it? If I exist, I destroy the very idea of totality.

The people who deny God are the most egoistic people. It is not an accident that Friedrich Nietzsche declared God dead. He was one of the most egoistic persons possible. It was his ego that made him insane finally. Ego is insanity, the basic insanity, the most fundamental, out of which all other insanities arise. He said: "God is dead and man is free." That sentence is significant. In one sentence he has said the whole thing: Man can be free only if God is dead; if God is alive, then man cannot be free, in fact man cannot exist.

The very idea that "I am" is unspiritual. The idea of the self is unspiritual.

And what is self-cultivation? It is an effort to polish; it is an effort to create a beautiful character, to drop all that is unrespectable and to create all that is respectable. That's why in different countries different things are cultivated by the spiritual people -- the so-called spiritual. It depends on the society; what the society respects, that will be cultivated.

In Soviet Russia, before the revolution, there was a Christian sect which believed that sexual organs should be cut, only then are you real Christians. The statement of Jesus was taken literally. Jesus has said: Be eunuchs of God. And these fools followed it literally. Every year they would gather in thousands and in a mad frenzy they would cut their sexual organs. Men would cut their genital organs, women would cut their breasts. And those who were able to do it were thought to be saints; they were very much respected -- they had made a great sacrifice. Now, anywhere else they would have been thought utterly insane; but because in that particular society it was respected, they were saints.

In India you can find many people Lying down on beds of thorns or needles, and they are thought to be great sages. If you look into their eyes, they are just stupid people. Lying down on a bed of thorns can't make one spiritual. It will simply deaden your body, your sensitivity. Your body will become more and more dull; it will not feel.

That's how it happens. Your face does not feel the cold because it remains open; it becomes insensitive to the cold. Your hands don't feel the cold so much because they are open; they become insensitive to the cold. Exactly in the same way you can live naked. Only for the beginning few months will you feel the cold; slowly slowly your body will adjust.

That's how the Jaina monks live naked. And their followers praise them like anything; they think: "This is what real spirituality is. Look, they have gone beyond the body!" They have gone nowhere; the body has just become dull. And when the body becomes dull it naturally creates a dullness of the mind too, because body and mind are deeply one. The body is the outer shell of the mind and the mind is the inner core of the body.

If you really want to be a sensitive, intelligent mind, you need a sensitive, intelligent body too. Yes, the body has its own intelligence. Don't kill it, don't destroy it, otherwise you will be destroying your intelligence. But if it is respected, then it becomes something religious, spiritual, holy.

Anything that the society respects becomes a nourishment for your ego. And people are ready to do any stupid thing. The only joy is that it will bring respectability.

Self-cultivation is nothing but another name for ego-cultivation. It is not a real path. In fact, no real path is needed. It looks like a long long, arduous path; it needs many lives. The people who have been preaching self-cultivation know perfectly well that one life is not enough; otherwise they will be exposed. So they imagine many many lives, a long, arduous journey of many lives. Then finally, after an unimaginable time, you arrive. In fact, you never arrive. You cannot arrive because you are already there. Hence this very idea of a path leading to a goal is meaningless.

Try to understand the paradox; it is very significant in understanding the spirit of Zen.

ZEN IS NOT A WAY, IS NOT A PATH. Hence they call it the gateless gate, the pathless path, the effortless effort, the actionless action. They use these contradictory terms just to point towards a certain truth: that a path means there is a goal and the goal has to be in the future. You are here, the goal is there, and between you and the goal a path is needed, a bridge, to join you. The very idea of a path means you have yet to arrive home, that you are not at home already.

The second path -- the pathless path, the path of enlightenment -- has a totally different revelation to make, a totally different declaration of immense value: that you are already it. "AH, THIS!" There is nowhere to go, no need to go. There is NO ONE to go. We are already enlightened. Then only can it happen in an instant -- because it is a question of awakening.

For example, if you have fallen asleep and you are dreaming...you can dream that you are on the moon. Do you think that if somebody wakes you up you will have to come back from the moon? Then it will take time. If you have already reached the moon, then you will have to come back and it will take time. The airship may not be available right now. There may be no tickets available; it may be full. But you can be awakened because it is only a dream that you are on the moon. In fact you are in your bed, in your home: you had not gone anywhere. Just a little shaking and you are suddenly back -- back from your dreams.

The world is only a dream. We need not go anywhere; we have always been here; we ARE here and we are going to be here. But we can fall asleep and we can dream.

The All-Indian National Guard was out on maneuvers. They were about to begin a mock battle between the "red" team and the "blue" team when they received a telegram from Delhi: "Because of recent budget cuts we cannot supply weapons or ammunition, but please continue with your battle for training purposes."

The General called his troops together and said, "We will simulate the battle. If you are within a hundred yards of the enemy, point your arm and shout 'BANG-BANG' for a rifle. If you are within fifty feet, throw your arms over your head and shout 'BOOM' for a hand grenade. If you are within five feet, wave your arms and shout 'SLASH-SLASH' for a bayonet."

Private Abul was put on scout patrol, and apparently all the action went in another direction. He was out for three days and three nights, but did not see another person.

On the fourth day Abul was sitting under a tree, discouraged, when he saw a figure coming across the hill in his direction. He got down on his hands and knees and crawled through the mud and weeds, as he had been trained. Sure enough, it was a soldier from the other team.

Abul raised his arm and shouted "BANG-BANG!" but he got no response. So he ran up closer, threw his arm over his head, and shouted "BOOM!" very loudly. The other soldier did not even turn in his direction. So he ran right up to the soldier and shouted in his ear "SLASH-SLASH! SLASH-SLASH!" but still he got no reaction.

Abul was angry. He grabbed the other soldier by the arm and shouted, "Hey! You are not playing according to the rules. I went 'BANG-BANG,' I shouted 'BOOM,' and I came right up to you and said 'SLASH-SLASH,' and you have not even indicated that you have seen me yet."

At this point, the other soldier wheeled around to Abul and said in a deep voice, "RUMBLE-RUMBLE, I am a tank!"

This is the situation. You are not what you think you are, you are not what you believe you are. All your beliefs are dreams. Maybe you have been dreaming for so long that they appear almost like realities.

So the question is not of self-cultivation: the question is of enlightenment.

Zen believes in sudden enlightenment because Zen believes that you are already enlightened; just a certain situation is needed which can wake you up. Just a little alarm may do the work. If you are a little alert, just a little alarm and you are suddenly awake. And all the dream with all its long long desires, journeys, kingdoms, mountains, oceans...they have all disappeared in a single instant.

This beautiful story:

THE ANCIENTS SAID:

"(SELF-)CULTIVATION TAKES AN UNIMAGINABLE TIME...."

It is bound to take an unimaginable time because you will be fighting with shadows. You cannot conquer them, you cannot destroy them either. In fact, the more you fight with them, the more you believe in their existence. If you fight with your own shadow, do you think there is any possibility of your ever becoming victorious? It's impossible. And it is not because the shadow is stronger than you that the victory is impossible. Just the contrary: the shadow has NO power, it has NO existence, and you start fighting with something which is non-existential -- how can you win? You will be dissipating your energy. You will become tired and the shadow will remain unaffected. It will not get tired. You cannot kill it, you cannot burn it, you cannot even escape from it. The faster you run, the faster it comes behind you.

The only way to get rid of it is to SEE that it is not there at all. Seeing that a shadow is a shadow is liberation. Just seeing, no cultivation! And once the shadows disappear, your life has a luminosity of its own. Certainly there will arise great perfume, but it will not be something cultivated; it will not be something painted from the outside.

That's the difference between a saint and a sage. A saint follows the path of self-cultivation. He practices non-violence, like Mahatma Gandhi; he practices truth, truthfulness; he practices sincerity, honesty. But these are all practices. And whenever you are practicing non-violence, what are you doing? What is really happening inside you? You must be repressing violence. When you are practicing -- when you HAVE to practice -- truth, what does it mean? It simply means untruth arises in you and you repress it and you go against it, and you say the truth. But the untruth has not disappeared from your being. You can push it downwards into the very basement of your being; you can throw it into the deep darkness of the unconscious. You can become completely oblivious of it. You can forget that it exists, but it exists and it is bound to function from those deep, dark depths of your being in such a subtle way that you will never be aware that you are still in its grip -- in fact, far more so than before because when it was consciously felt you were not so much in its grip. Now the enemy has become hidden.

That's my observation of Mahatma Gandhi. He observed, cultivated non-violence; but I have looked deeply into his life and he is one of the most violent men this century has known. But his violence is very polished; his violence is so sophisticated that it looks almost like non-violence. And his violence has such subtle ways that you cannot detect it easily. It comes from the back door; it is never at the front door. You will not find it in his drawing-room; it is not there. It has started living somewhere in the servants' quarters at the back of the house where nobody ever goes, but it goes on pulling his strings from there.

For example, if ordinarily you are angry, you are angry with the person who has provoked it. Mahatma Gandhi would be angry with himself, not with the person. He would turn his anger upon himself; he would make it introverted. Now it is very difficult to detect it. He would go on a fast, he would become suicidal, he would start torturing himself. And in a subtle way he would torture the other by torturing himself.

In his ashram, if somebody was found drinking tea.... Now tea is so innocent, but it was a sin in Mahatma Gandhi's ashram. These ashrams exist by creating guilt in people; they don't miss any opportunity to create guilt. That is their trade-secret, so no opportunity has to be missed. Even tea is enough; it has to be used. If somebody is found drinking tea, he is a sinner. He is committing a crime -- far more than a crime, because a sin is something far deeper than a crime. If somebody was found....

And people used to drink tea. They would drink tea in hiding; they had to hide. Just to drink tea they had to be thieves, deceivers, hypocrites! That's what your so-called religions have done to millions of people. Rather than making them spiritual they have simply made them, reduced them to hypocrites.

They would pretend that they didn't drink tea, but once in a while they would be found red-handed. And Gandhi was searching, looking; he had agents planted to find out who was going against the rules. And whenever somebody was found he would be called...and Gandhi would go on a fast to punish himself.

"What kind of logic is this?" you will ask. It is a very simple logic. In India it has been followed for centuries. The trick is that Gandhi used to say, "I must not yet be a perfect Master, that's why a disciple can deceive me. So I must purify myself. You could deceive me because I am not yet perfect. If I was perfect nobody could deceive me. How can you imagine deceiving a perfect Master? So there is some imperfection in me."

Look at the humbleness! And he would torture himself; he would go on a fast. Now Gandhi is fasting because you have taken a cup of tea. How will YOU feel? His three days' fast for you, just for a single cup of tea! It will be too heavy on you. If he had hit you on the head it would not have been so heavy. If he had insulted you, punished you, told you to go on a fast for three days, it would have been far simpler -- and far more compassionate. But the old man himself is fasting, torturing himself, and you are condemned by every eye in the ashram. Everybody is looking at you as a great sinner: "It is because of YOU that the Master is suffering. And just for a cup of tea? How low you have fallen!"

And the person would go and touch his feet and cry and weep, but Gandhi wouldn't listen. He had to purify himself.

This is all violence; I don't call it non-violence. It is violence with a vengeance, but in such a subtle way that it is very difficult to detect. Even Gandhi may not have been aware at all of what he was doing -- because he was not practicing awareness, he was practicing non-violence.

You can go on practicing...then there are a thousand and one things to be practiced. And when will you be able to get out of all that is wrong in your life? It will take an unimaginable time. And then, too, do you think you will be out of it? It is not possible; you will not be out of it.

I have never seen anybody arriving at truth by self-cultivation. In fact, the people who go for self-cultivation are not very intelligent people because they have missed the most fundamental insight: that we are not going anywhere, that God is not something to be achieved; God is already the CASE in you. You are pregnant with God, you are made of the stuff called God. Nothing has to be achieved -- only a certain awareness, a SELF-awareness.

There is an unusual store in New York where one can buy exotic foods from all over the world.

Mulla Nasruddin visited this store recently. He found rare tropical fruits from the jungles of South America and many strange delicacies from Africa and the Middle East.

In one corner he found a counter with several trays of human brains. There were politicians' brains at $1 per pound, engineers' brains at $2 per pound, and there was one tray Of saints' brains at $50 per pounce.

Since all the brains looked very much alike, he asked the man behind the counter, "Why do you charge so much more for the saints' brains?"

The man peered out from behind his glasses and answered, "Do you have any idea how many saints we have to go through to get a pound of brains?"

My observation of your so-called saints is exactly the same. I don't think they are very intelligent people -- basically stupid, because unless one is stupid one cannot follow the path of self-cultivation. It APPEARS only as a path; it is not. And it is tedious and it is long; in fact, it is unending.

You can change one habit; it will start asserting itself in something else. You can close one door and another door immediately opens. By the time you close that door a third door is bound to open -- because basically you remain the same, the same old unconscious person. Trying to be humble you will be simply becoming more and more egoistic and nothing else. Your humbleness will be simply a new way of fulfilling your ego. Deep down you will imagine yourself to be the humblest person in the world -- there is nobody who is more humble than you. Now, this is ego speaking a new language, but the meaning is the same. The language is changed but the meaning is the same; translated into a different language it does not change. First you were the greatest man in the world, now you are the humblest man in the world, but you remain special, you remain extraordinary, you remain superior. First you were this, now you are that, but deep down nothing has changed. Nothing can ever change by self-cultivation.

A man spent thousands of dollars going from doctor to doctor trying to find a cure for his insomnia. Finally a doctor was able to help him.

"You must be terribly relieved," said one of his friends sympathetically.

"You said it!" replied the former insomniac. "Why, sometimes I lie awake all night thinking of how I used to suffer."

So what has changed? Self-cultivation only gives you a deception: the deception that something is happening, that you are doing something, that something great is on the way; that if not today, tomorrow it is going to happen.

Hornstein manufactured coats, but business was so bad the poor man could not sleep.

"Count sheep," advised Slodnick, his friend. "It is the best-known cure."

"What can I lose?" said Hornstein. "I will try tonight."

The next morning he looked more bleary-eyed than ever.

"What happened?" asked Slodnick.

"Sheep I could count," moaned Hornstein. "I counted up to fifty thousand. Then I sheared the sheep and made up fifty thousand overcoats. Then came the problem that kept me awake all the rest of the night: where could I get fifty thousand linings?"

No such things are going to help because if the MIND is the same, it will go on creating the same problem in different ways. Basically the roots have to be transformed; just pruning the leaves is not going to help. And self-cultivation is only pruning of the leaves.

THE ANCIENTS SAID:

"(SELF-)CULTIVATION TAKES AN UNIMAGINABLE TIME (WHILE) ENLIGHTENMENT IN AN INSTANT IS ATTAINED."

ENLIGHTENMENT IS ATTAINED IN A SINGLE MOMENT. Why? -- because you are already enlightened. You have simply forgotten it. You have to be reminded, that's all.

The function of the Master is to remind you, not to give you a path but to give you a remembrance; not to give you methods of cultivation, not to give you a character, virtue, but only awareness, intelligence, awakening.

In a single moment it can be attained because you have never lost it in the first place. You are dreaming that you are unenlightened. You can dream you are in heaven, you can dream you are in hell. And you know! -- you dream sometimes you are in heaven and sometimes in hell. In the morning you can be in heaven and by the evening you can be in hell. One moment you can be in heaven, another moment you can be in hell. It all depends on you. It is something to do with your psyche; it is not something outside you.

A man died, arrived at the Pearly Gates, and was shown by St. Peter to a waiting room. He sat there, naturally anxious to know whether he would be sent to Heaven or to Hell. The door opened and a famous saint walked in.

The man rejoiced, "I must be in Heaven!"

Just then the door opened again and a famous prostitute walked in. The man was confused. "In that case I must be in Hell!" he thought.

While he was still wondering, the saint grabbed the prostitute and started making love to her. The man, flabbergasted, ran to St. Peter and asked, "You MUST tell me: is this Heaven or Hell?"

"Can't you see?" answered St. Peter. "It is Heaven for him and Hell for her!"

Heaven and hell are not geographical; they are not something outside you, they are something that belongs to your interiority. If you are awake, then you are in a totally different universe; it is as if in your awakening the whole existence becomes awakened. It takes a new color, a new flavor, a new fragrance. When you are asleep, the whole existence sleeps with you. It all depends on you.

So the question is not of cultivating any character, of becoming virtuous, of becoming a saint. The question is how to come out of dreams, how to come out of the past and the future, how to be just herenow.

That's what enlightenment is... "AH, THIS!"

When Alice was at the Mad Hatter's tea party, she noticed that no jam was available. She asked for jam, and the Mad Hatter said, "Jam is served every other day."

Alice protested, "But there was no jam yesterday either!"

"That's right," said the Mad Hatter. "The rule is: always jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, never jam today...because today is not every other day!"

And that's how you are living: jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, never jam today. And that's where jam is! So you only imagine; you go on in a drugged, sleepy state. You have forgotten completely that this moment is the ONLY real moment there is. And if you want to have any contact with reality, wake up herenow!

Hence this strange idea of Zen that enlightenment happens in an instant. Many people become puzzled: "How can it happen in an instant?" Indians particularly become very puzzled because they have the idea that first you have to get rid of all the past karmas, and now this foolish idea has reached to the West. Now in the West people are talking about past karma: first you have to get rid of the past karma.

Do you know how long the past is? It is eternity! And if you are to get rid of all past karma you are never going to get rid of it -- that much is certain. And meanwhile you will be creating other karmas, and the past will go on becoming bigger and bigger every day. If that is the only way out -- that one has to get rid of all past karmas -- then there is no possibility of enlightenment. Then there has never been any Buddha and there is never going to be any Buddha; it is impossible. Just think of all the past lives and all the karmas that you have built up -- first you have to get rid of them. And how are you going to get rid of them? In trying to get rid of them you will have to create other karmas. And this is a vicious circle.

"And to be totally enlightened," the people who believe in the philosophy of karma say, "not only are you to get rid of the bad karmas, you have to get rid of the good karmas too -- because bad karmas create iron chains and good karmas create golden chains. But chains are chains, and you have to get rid of all kinds of chains." Now things become even more complicated. And how can you get rid of bad karmas? If you ask them they say, "Create good karma to get rid of bad karmas." And how can you get rid of good karmas? Then the saints become angry. They say, "Stop! You are arguing too much. This is not a question of argument. Believe, trust, have faith!"

It is not really a question of getting rid of karmas. When in the morning you wake up, do you have to get rid of all the dreams first? You have been a thief in the dreams, a murderer, a rapist, or a saint...you can be all kinds of things in a dream. Do you have to get rid of all those dreams first? The MOMENT you are awake you are out of all those dreams -- they are finished! There is no question of getting rid of them.

That is the essential message of Zen: that you need not be worried about the past karmas; they were all dream acts. Just wake up and they are all finished.

But we are sleepy people and anything that fits with our sleep has great appeal. We listen only according to our state of mind. The whole world is asleep. There is rarely, once in a while, a person who is not asleep, who is awake. When he speaks to you there is misunderstanding, obviously. He speaks from his standpoint, from his awakening, and he says, "Forget all about your dreams -- that is all nonsense! Good and bad, they are all alike; saint and sinner, they are all alike. Simply wake up! Don't be worried that first you have to become a saint in your dream, that you have to change your being a sinner into being a saint first, then you can wake up. Why go by such a long route? You can wake up directly! You can wake up while you are committing a sin; while you are murdering somebody in your dream you can wake up. There is no problem.

In fact, if you are a saint you may not like to wake up. A murderer will find it easier to wake up because he has nothing to lose, but the saint has great prestige to lose. Maybe he is being garlanded and a Nobel prize is being given and people are clapping and touching his feet...and suddenly the alarm goes. Is this the time for the alarm? Can't the alarm wait a little more? When things are going so sweetly and beautifully the alarm can wait a little. A murderer has nothing to lose. He is already suffering; he is in a deep inner torture. In fact, he will feel relieved if the alarm goes off. He will feel a great freedom coming out of that nightmare.

Hence it happens more often that sinners wake up earlier than the saints, because the sinners go through nightmares and saints are having such sweet dreams. Who wants to wake up when you are a king with a golden palace and enjoying all kinds of things? Maybe you are in paradise in your dream.

But one thing is certain: when you are asleep you have a certain language -- the language of sleep -- and you can understand other people who are asleep and speak the same language. That's why the philosophy of karma became so important, so prevalent, so dominant. It has ruled almost all the religions of the world in different ways.

In India there have been three great religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism. They disagree on every point EXCEPT on the philosophy of karma; they disagree on EVERY point possible. They disagree on the existence of God, they disagree even on the existence of the soul, they disagree on the existence of the world, but they don't disagree on the philosophy of karma. It must have some deep appeal for the sleeping mind. And these people cannot understand Zen.

When a Hindu pundit or a Jaina MUNI comes to me he is very much puzzled. He says, "Are you teaching instant, sudden enlightenment? Then what about Mahavira who had to struggle for many many lives to become enlightened?"

I say to them, "Those stories are invented by you. The Mahavira that YOU talk about is an invention of your dream; you don't know about the real Mahavira. How can you know about his past lives? You don't even know about YOUR past lives!" And there is not even any agreement on his last life amongst his followers -- what to say about his past lives?

On such factual matters...for example, whether he was married or not: one sect of Jainas says he was not married, because to them a man like Mahavira getting married looks insulting, humiliating. And the other sect of the Jainas says he was not only married, but he had a daughter too. Now that is going too far -- having a daughter! That means he must have indulged in sex -- because at that time the story of Jesus had not happened. Virgin birth was not yet known!

They can't agree...the disciples can't agree about Mahavira's last life on factual matters like marriage, daughter, etcetera, and they talk about his past lives!

Anything that helps you to go on sleeping, postponing, appeals. "Even Mahavira had to work hard for many many lives, so how can WE become enlightened in this life? It will take many lives, so there is no need to do anything right now. We can wait! And it is NOT going to happen right now anyway; it will take many many lives. Meanwhile, why not do other things? Accumulate more money, prestige, power. Do other things: eat, drink, be merry -- because this is not going to happen, this enlightenment, right now; it will take many many lives. And meanwhile you cannot just go on sitting and waiting; one has to do something."

Sleeping people can understand a language which appeals to their sleep. We understand only that which triggers some process in our being.

The Sisters of Mercy were about to be sent as missionaries out into the world of sin. Mother Superior had one last question to ask each nun before deciding which of them were best fitted for the hazardous tasks ahead.

"Sister Agatha," she asked the first. "What would you do if you were walking along a deserted street at night and a strange man approached you and made indecent advances?"

"Oh, Holy Mother of God!" gasped the nun. "May all the saints forbid! Why, I would get down on my knees and pray to the Holy Virgin that my soul might be saved."

Mother Superior noted that Sister Agatha might be better suited to more domestic work.

The same question was asked of Sister Agnes, who replied, "Why, I would punch him in the nose...and then start running down the street as fast as I could, shouting 'Help, help!'"

Mother Superior noted Sister Agnes as one of the possible candidates for the missionary work.

Next she asked Sister Theresa, who began, "Well, first I would pull his trousers down...." Mother Superior choked a little, but Sister Theresa continued. "And then I would pull my dress up, and then...."

"Sister Theresa," interrupted the senior nun. "Now what kind of an answer is that?"

"Well," said the other, "I just figure that I can run faster with my dress up than he can with his trousers down !"

We understand only that which we CAN understand. The sleeping humanity can understand only certain things; it can HEAR only certain things. The other things are not heard or even if heard they are not understood; they are misunderstood.

Zen has been misunderstood very much. You will be surprised to know that even Buddhists don't understand Zen.

Many orthodox Buddhists have come to me asking why I emphasize Zen so much, because it is not the main Buddhist tradition. That is true; the main Buddhist tradition is against Zen. Zen seems to be a little outlandish, a little eccentric, for the simple reason that it brings such a totally new truth to you: INSTANT enlightenment Never has any other religion emphasized it so much: that you are capable of becoming enlightened right now -- it is all up to you.

IF THE TRAINING IS EFFICIENT, ENLIGHTENMENT WILL BE ATTAINED IN ONE FINGERSNAP.

There is no path as such, but there is a certain discipline to wake you up. That is called "training." Training has nothing to do with your character but something to do with your consciousness. Training simply means a certain space, a certain context has to be created around you in which awakening is easier than falling asleep -- just like when you want somebody to be awake you throw cold water into his eyes. Not that you teach him to be virtuous, not that you teach him to be non-violent -- those things are not going to help him to be awake. But cold water, that is a totally different phenomenon; that is creating a context. Or you give him a cup of tea; that helps him to wake up. Or you tell him to jog, run, shout; that will help him to wake up more quickly.

All Zen methods are like that: cold water thrown in your eyes, a hammer hit on your head. Zen is totally different from other religions. It does not give you a certain character; it certainly gives you a context.

IN DAYS GONE BY, CH'AN MASTER HUI CHUEH OF LANG YEH MOUNTAIN, HAD A WOMAN DISCIPLE WHO CALLED ON HIM FOR INSTRUCTION. THE MASTER TAUGHT HER TO EXAMINE INTO THE SENTENCE: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

NOW, THIS IS CREATING A CONTEXT. The Master told her to meditate on this small sentence: "Take no notice." And it has to be meditated on in different situations, in all possible situations. It has not to be forgotten any time; it has to be remembered continuously, whatsoever happens.

SHE FOLLOWED HIS INSTRUCTION STRICTLY WITHOUT BACKSLIDING.

ONE DAY HER HOUSE CAUGHT FIRE, BUT SHE SAID: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

Now, this is creating a context. This is real training, this is discipline. The house is on fire and she remembers the instruction: "Take no notice." It is easy when the house is not on fire and everything is running smoothly, well, and you can sit silently in a small corner you have made in the house to meditate -- then you can say, "Take no notice." It is easy, but it is not going to wake you up; it may even help you to fall asleep. But when the house is on fire it is difficult, very difficult. Your possessiveness is at stake, your life is in danger, your security is gone, your safety is gone. You may be just a beggar the next day on the street with nothing left

But the woman must have been a real disciple.

SHE SAID: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

And not only did she say it, she took no notice. She relaxed, as if nothing was happening. And the moment you can see your house on fire and can see it as if nothing is happening, nothing happens. The house will be burned, but you will come out of that experience for the first time with clarity, with no dust on your mirror, with great insight. Everything is on fire! The whole life is on fire because we are dying every moment. Nothing is secure, nothing is safe. We only go on believing that everything is secure and safe. In this world of flux and change, where death is the ultimate end of everything, how can there be any security?

If you can see your own house on fire and go on meditating silently, relaxedly, in a deep let-go -- take no notice -- you will come out of it a totally different person, with a new consciousness, reborn.

ANOTHER DAY, HER SON FELL INTO THE WATER AND WHEN A BYSTANDER CALLED HER, SHE SAID, "TAKE NO NOTICE."

Now even more difficult -- because a house is, after all, a dead thing. We can make another house, money can be earned again. But your son falls into the water, is drowning...this is a more difficult situation, more attachment -- your own son. And for the mother, the son is her extension, part of her, part of her soul, of her being. Still she says, "Take no notice."

SHE OBSERVED EXACTLY HER MASTER'S INSTRUCTION BY LAYING DOWN ALL CASUAL THOUGHTS.

If this is possible...because these are the two problems in the world: possessiveness of things and relationship with people. These are YOUR problems too. That's where people are asleep: either they are possessive with things or they are in heavy relationships with people. These are the two points which keep you clouded, confused, unaware.

She passed both the tests. And if you can pass these two things: if you can become aware that you possess nothing.... Use everything but possess nothing, and relate with people but don't become part of any relationship.

Relating is one thing, relationship quite another. Relating does not take you into any bondage; relationship is a bondage. Love people, but don't be jealous, don't be possessive. Relate with as many people as possible, but remain free and let them also be free of you. Don't try to dominate and don't allow anybody to dominate you either.

Use things, but remember: you come into the world with empty hands and you will go from the world again with empty hands, so you cannot possess anything.

If these two insights become clear and you start taking no note, all casual thoughts will disappear from your mind. And all thoughts are casual, no thought is essential. The essential is silence; thoughts are all casual. When thoughts disappear, the essential surfaces. Great silence explodes in a tremendous melody. And that experience is liberating, that experience is divine.

ONE DAY, AS HER HUSBAND LIT THE FIRE TO MAKE FRITTERS OF TWISTED DOUGH, SHE THREW INTO THE PAN FULL OF BOILING (VEGETABLE) OIL A BATTER WHICH MADE A NOISE.

UPON HEARING THE NOISE, SHE WAS INSTANTLY ENLIGHTENED.

THAT'S WHAT I CALL...if you are ready, if the context is ready, then ANYTHING can trigger the process of enlightenment -- ANYTHING. Just:

UPON HEARING THE NOISE, SHE WAS INSTANTLY ENLIGHTENED.

Nothing special was happening, just an ordinary noise. You come across that kind of noise every day many times But if the right context is there, you are in a right space...and she was in a right space: non-possessive, unrelated to anything, to any person, non-dominating. She was in a state of liberation, just on the borderline. One step more and she would move into the world of the Buddhas. And that small step can be caused by anything whatsoever.

UPON HEARING THE NOISE....

That noise became the last alarm, the last straw on the back of the camel.

...SHE WAS INSTANTLY ENLIGHTENED. THEN SHE THREW THE PAN OF OIL ON THE GROUND, CLAPPED HER HANDS AND LAUGHED.

Why did she do that: CLAPPED HER HANDS AND LAUGHED? When one becomes enlightened, laughter is almost a natural by-product; spontaneously it comes -- for the simple reason that we have been searching and searching for lives for something which was already there inside. Our whole effort was ridiculous! Our whole effort was absurd. One laughs at the great cosmic joke. One laughs at the sense of humor that God must have or the existence: that we have it with us already and we are searching for it. One laughs at one's own ridiculous efforts, long long journeys, pilgrimages, for something which was never lost in the first place. Hence the laughter, hence the clapping.

THINKING SHE WAS INSANE, HER HUSBAND SCOLDED HER AND SAID...

And of course, anybody who is still asleep seeing somebody suddenly becoming enlightened, clapping hands and laughing, is bound to think that the person has gone insane. This breakthrough will look to the sleeping person like a breakdown; it is not a break-down. But the sleeping person can't help it; he can understand only according to his values, criterions.

...HE SCOLDED HER AND SAID: "WHY DO YOU DO THIS? ARE YOU MAD?"

SHE REPLIED: "TAKE NO NOTICE."

She continues: her meditation is still there. She is following her Master's instruction to the very end. The husband is calling her mad and she says: "Take no notice."

The world WILL call you mad. The world has always been calling Buddhas mad. Take no notice. It is natural; it should be accepted as a matter of course.

THEN SHE WENT TO MASTER HUI CHUEH AND ASKED HIM TO VERIFY HER ACHIEVEMENT.

THE MASTER'S FUNCTIONS ARE MANY. First: to help you to wake up, to provoke you into an awakening; to create the situation in which sleep becomes more and more difficult and awakening becomes more and more easy; and when for the first time you ARE awakened, to confirm it, because it is very difficult for the person himself. The territory is so unknown. The ego is lost, all old values are gone, the old mind is no more functioning. Everything is so new; nothing seems to be continuous with the old. There seems to be no way to judge, evaluate, be certain. One is in deep awe and wonder. One does not know what is happening, what has happened, what it is all about. One is simply at a loss.

Hence the last function of the Master is to confirm, to say, "Yes, this is it."

THE MASTER CONFIRMED THAT SHE HAD OBTAINED THE HOLY FRUIT.

Zen people call this "the holy fruit," the fruition, the flowering -- coming to the ultimate awakening, coming to the ultimate experience of yourself and existence. But remember: it can only happen in the moment. It can only happen in the instant. It can only happen now -- now or never.

You will ask: "Then why all these methods, trainings?" They are just to bring you back to the now. You have gone too far away in the memories and in imagination. They are not to create any cultivation; they are not for self-cultivation but for bringing you back home.

Here we are using all kinds of methods, and as many more people will be coming we will be devising new methods, because different people will need different methods. In the new commune we are going to have all possible methods. It has never been tried on such a scale. Every religion has a few methods, but we are going to have ALL the methods of all the religions of the past and of all the religions that are going to happen in the future. We are going to create a space for ALL kinds of people, not for any particular type. The old religions are missing in that way.

For example, only a particular type of person can be helped by Mahavira's methods -- only the type who belongs to Mahavira's type can be helped. It is a very limited methodology. Mahavira attained to the holy fruit; he taught the same method by which he attained. Jesus had his own method, Mohammed had his own method. So no religion of the past could be universal because it belonged to a certain type and only that type could be benefited by it.

Hence one problem has arisen: you may be born in a Jaina family and you may not be of the same type which the Jaina method can help. Then you are in a difficulty; your whole life will be a wastage. You will try the method; it won't suit you -- and you will not change your method. You will think it is because of your past karmas that the method is not working, that it will take time. You will rationalize. You may be born in a Hindu family and Hindu methods may not work.

There are so many types of people in the world, and as the world has grown and people's consciousnesses have grown, more and more new types, more and more crossbreeds have come into existence which were never there before -- which never existed in Mahavira's time, which never existed in Krishna's time. There are many new types, crossbreeds. And in the future this is going to happen more and more; the world is becoming a small village.

My effort is to use all the methods of the past, to make them up-to-date, to make them contemporary, and to create new methods for the future -- for the future of humanity. Hence what I am teaching is neither Hinduism nor Buddhism nor Christianity, and yet I am teaching the essence of all the religions.

You are here not to cultivate a certain spiritual ego but to dissolve all the ego, to dissolve all sleep. You are here to wake up. The situation is being created -- use this situation as totally as possible.

Remember this woman who was meditating on "Take no notice." Such totality is needed. The house is on fire and she says: "Take no notice." Her son falls into the water and she says: "Take no notice." Her husband calls her mad and she says: "Take no notice." Then such a simple meditation -- of taking no notice -- creates the necessary milieu in which she becomes aflame, afire. Her inner being explodes. She is no more the same old person; she is reborn. She is reborn as enlightened. She becomes a Buddha.

You are all Buddhas -- sleeping, dreaming, but you are Buddhas all the same. My function is not to MAKE Buddhas out of you, because you are already that, but just to help you remember it, to remind you.

Author: Sophie Benshitta Maven

award winning architect, magazine publisher, transformational and spiritual coach and teacher, self declared Avatar

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